12-Jan-2008 -- The story starts from 5N 116E.
This confluence is located quite remotely in the forests of Northern Borneo. So it is no wonder why it had never been attempted before.
On confluence day, Elionora and I took an early morning speedboat from Kapit to the City of Sibu. Kapit is a provincial town 110 km East and Sibu a bigger city located 60 km North-West of the confluence. In between those towns the Batang Rajan River passes through the confluence area. It is a huge waterway with many ferries speeding along with 50km/h.
After 2 hours speeding on Batang Rajan, our ferry had a scheduled stop in a village called Kanowit, where I got off. Meanwhile it was 10 o’clock and already extremely hot. Still 15 km beeline to my goal. I asked for busses going to a village Machan which is 3.5 km from the confluence. Unfortunately, the next bus was not to leave before 3 pm. Far too late to get to my goal that day. I followed my strategy that had been successful many times: I bought 2 litres of water and headed to the other end of town, simply following the GPS direction. This way, I soon reached the road leading to Machan, from where I was able to hitchhike.
11:30 am I reached this small outpost Machan (picture #5). It consists of a tiny gathering of houses along the shore of the Kanowit River with a café and a couple Chinese stores. The reason for its existence is probably the wood industry – a lot of logging activities were going on across the river.
Now the decision had to be made whether to continue by boat or on food. Traditionally, this area had been only passable via waterways. But standing at the waterfront waiting for a water-taxi, I spotted a logging road on the other side of the river, nicely pointing in the right direction. I changed my mind and decided to try my approach overland.
A native from the Iban tribe shipped me across the Kanowit River, together with some Chinese logging-truck drivers. After reaching the other side, I found myself in a huge embark point for large tree trunks. Although it was unbearable hot and still 3 km beeline to go, I started hiking along the logging road (anyway there was no traffic that could take me). It almost took an hour on this windy and steep track, until I got to the smallest distance to the confluence from the road: 540 m. But unfortunately, there was absolutely no way I could get closer. Dense secondary forest and an almost vertical grade down lay between me and the confluence. I kept on walking along the road, looking for a footpath or an opportunity to at least make some steps towards the CP. At a distance of 720 m from the CP, I found a dry riverbed that served as my entry point into the wilderness.
However, it turned out that progress was too slow. I climbed down for half an hour, not even covering 100 m beeline. With this speed, I would not reach the CP before darkness. At this point, I quit and returned to the road, walked back to Machan, took the ferry across and searched for further transportation to Sibu. I had some unconventional vehicles to get back to Sibu: first a school bus driver offered to take me parts of the way – thereby bringing home several school kids in different villages. Then we met up with her husband – a cement truck driver, who took me to his query in the outskirts of Sibu – en-route unloading his sand-mix at a construction site.
The next visitor of this confluence could try an approach on the waterways of Kanowit river. The confluence seems to be located in a valley which could have a navigate creek. Otherwise, it is possible to bring some patience by finding a way through the thickets.
CP visit details:
- Time at the point of return: 13:45 pm
- time: spend 1 day
- hiking distance: 3 km (beeline)
- Distance to a road: 540 m
- Distance to a track: 540 m
- Distance to houses: 3 km
- Topography: extremely steep grades.
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 540 m
- GPS height: 90 m at the road, the CP probably lower.
- Vegetation: dense trees (secondary forest) and in the lower layer ferns, twines
- Weather: sunny, 36° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: on Borneo Island in Sarawak Province. Located in a generally cultivated region, but obviously without infrastructures right in its proximity.
- Given Name: The Logging Road Confluence
Story continues at 2N 111E.